Colleagues, business partners and friends,

At BizNews, we like to celebrate milestones. It gives us a chance to catch our breath, reflect, and be grateful for accomplishments we might otherwise take for granted.

The first day of operation of our website was on the 5ththousand August 2013 Like any newborn baby, it was conceived at the end of October 2012 when I was forced to abandon the 15-year Moneyweb project that was supposed to be my life’s work.

In retrospect, it was a blessing to leave the pioneering publishing business that began above the garage of our Parkview home. Nothing beats being able to work from a clean slate.

The best address we could find was It took months and significant investment to rid of Russian businessmen who appear to specialize in such trades.

Nine years ago, we expected that eventually we would be able to attract 50,000 people to visit the website every month. Last month, Google tells us that 371,900 unique users visited the site. A few times over the years when an article has gone viral, we’ve even cracked over a million visitors in a month.

As impressive as this bald statistic may seem to the untrained eye, it is not entirely relevant. In our industry, the Holy Grail is engagement, loyalty and engagement with your community, the BizNews tribe as we call them.

Which brings me to the change in our strategy that happened just six weeks ago on June 23rdrd to be precise. Since then, our fortunes have taken a turn for the better. The data doesn’t lie.

I have long been a fan of SA global strategy guru Tony Manning. At informal dinners, he would offer honest, no-nonsense, honest advice—ideas that always mattered. But from our 10thousand With just over a year to go until the anniversary and many issues on the table, we decided to invest in Tony’s professional involvement.

There have been many forks in the BizNews road over the past nine years. But none, literally none, were as critical as the switch we made as a result of Tony’s advice.

Without going into too much detail, he got us back on the path that brought us such incredible success. Tony explained – as is sometimes his manner – quite harshly – that we are distracting our more important assets by burdening them with non-productive responsibilities. In particular, myself, Michael Appel and Nadia Swart.

After a few days we handed over our management duties to the team of Jeanette, Stuart, Clive and Lucy and were able to focus on content creation. The result was impressive. Especially in areas where we see a big future – video and audio on demand.

Our YouTube channel surpassed 50,000 subscribers last month, confirming our dominance as South Africa’s leading business channel. We’re way ahead of our competition – not only in terms of subscribers, but also in terms of engagement as measured by average video views.

The overall participation numbers are even more impressive. In April, May and June, BizNews posted a very respectable number of 1.5 million minutes used per month. When Mike, Nadia and I focused on interviews with newsmakers, that number rose to 5.3 million minutes in July.

Growth is also reflected in coverage. In April, BizNews TV had 73 thousand unique viewers. This rose to 88,000 in May and topped 100,000 for the first time in June. 270,300 people viewed our content last month. Also quantifiable with YouTube rather than the thumbs-up we’re used to from immeasurable network TV.

Podcasts are the poor cousin in terms of quantity, but because of the direct interaction, we see this audio-on-demand medium as an important area for our future growth. The shift in focus had an immediate impact, with BizNews Radio growing from 38,000 unique downloads in May and 50,000 in June to 98,800 in July. The channel is now firmly in the top ten news and politics podcasts in Spotify SA’s charts, competing with Gareth Cliff for one of two positions – we alternate 8thousand and 9thousand – is occupied by SA-made products.

The website has a similar story, with’s engaged minutes growing from 500,000 in May and 560,000 in June to more than 800,000 in July.

I share this detail only to point out that while we have long believed that our community should be the center of our existence, sometimes we do not follow that in our internal processes.

Being reminded that our tribe really doesn’t care how many leadership meetings we have has made a huge difference. They love BizNews for its content. And that is something we will never forget. Again.

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